For those of you who have seen Franchesca Rasmey’s spoof infomercial, “Patience” on YouTube featuring Franchesca of Chescalocs , Fran of Hey Fan Hey, Taren Guy of Taren916, Nikisha and I, then you will know what I am referring to when I speak of the nativity that still surrounds hair growth regarding natural black hair especially hair type in the 4 range.
Growth vs Retention
Lets talk about growth baby, lets talk about you and me, lets talk about all the good things and all the bad things that may be, lets talk about GROWTH!
The fact that some individuals are still preaching kinky textures are so hard to grow is ridiculous. Growth is not the problem it is all the things we do to our hair that determines retention and some are not willing to do what works for their hair so they can retain length and if you don’t want to do the work for whatever the reason may be then there is absolutely nothing wrong in the least, but… just like anything in life, don’t expect something from nothing. My hair was not retaining length for years but when I started really taking care of my strands in doing what worked best for my hair through education, all while loving my natural 4b/c texture as is, that is when my hair began to flourish but it didn’t happen overnight, it took many, many, many YEARS!!!
To see some of the products and items that helped Nikisha and I retain length over the years click here –> How to Find Our Top Hair Regimen Essentials for Retaining Length, Moisture & “Health”
Terminal Length, Genetics & Race
There are many debates on whether or not terminal length is actual fact and the truth is YES! Every single hair on our body is subject to terminal length, this is why you will see someone with the longest eyelashes and wonder why yours is not the same length, well it all boils down to predetermined length. Every single hair on your body has a terminal length including the hair on our head.
The growth phase of our terminal length is decided by genetics but don’t be alarmed because even at the shortest terminal length which is 2 years most experts unequivocally agree that the average terminal length is 2 to 6 years DESPITE your Race. Of course there are always the exceptions of a little shorter or longer but on average our hair is capable of growing to at least 12 to 36 inches meaning even at the shortest terminal length our hair is capable to growing at least to bra strap from the nape.
The fact that race still comes into play when determining our growth potential is as crazy as someone saying they can pull money from their a@s. Yes certain races can have a slightly faster growth rate but on average meaning on average for everyone despite your background the average is ½ an inch per month equaling to 6 inches a year.
Unhealthy Hair Care Practices
This is one of the main reasons why we are not capable of achieving our terminal length. Many of us still treat our hair as if it is invincible instead of fine threads of silk. There is still this misconception that kinky textured hair is tough or coarse (which a word that is widely misused, coarse is the diameter of your hair strand meaning thick) and this misconception that kinky textured hair is “tough” will wreak havoc on our fragile strands. Yes “course vs fine”, porosity and hair texture determine the level on how easy it will be able to retain length but many of the reasons why our hair falls short of our goal lengths is everything we do to our strands while are hair is in its growth phase. Such as too much heat, smothering our strands with too much product or the wrong product which can cause dryness that will lead to breakage, not taking the time and patience to handle your hair, too much manipulation or tension with certain styles and on and on and on! Most times knowledge comes through experience and the condition of your hair will tell you what is wrong as you become knowledgeable you will be able to recognize the signs.
When it comes to health sometimes this subject can be treated as the last individual to be picked for a game of handball but treating what goes into your body as an afterthought can take a toll obviously on your body but translate through your hair as well. Your health is a big contributor in the condition of how you look and hair is no exception. What you put into your body is a big contributor and one of the most important in dictating the condition or “health” of your strands. For example the folate, iron, vitamin C and beta carotene, in kale, spinach and broccoli can help your hair follicles maintain health and sebum (natural oils) circulated or that oysters contain a wealth of protein and zinc and an insufficient intake of zinc can lead to hair loss due to your body lacking the capability to replace shedded hair, or blueberries are top dog when it comes to vitamin C. Vitamin C is highly significant in helping miniscule blood vessels nourish hair follicles or salmon contains omega 3 fatty acids, a type of spectacular fatty acid that salmon contains but our body cannot produce, aiding in growth of hair but if you are not a salmon lover you also can nourish your body with fatty acids though other certain types of fish (like herring, trout, mackerel) avocado and walnuts.
This is just the tip of the scale, I could be here all day but choosing a diet rich in proteins, vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids can tremendously benefit your mind, body and hair.
For more info on hair flourishing foods click here –>Gold Digger? Foods Rich in Protein to Aid in Healthier & Longer Hair
The Length & Density of your Hair as a Child
Regarding my childhood pictures in my bio, this is not the first time I have heard, “oh you had long hair when you were little and I didn’t, that is how I know my hair can’t grow” but what people fail to see is the back story to those pictures. All of those baby pics are of special occasions and holidays. For many years, in fact through my entire youth and early teens I wore nothing but box braids, and cornrows. My mom was extremely gentle in combing our hair (and I am a twin so that was double the work) which would take hours because she would comb it out in small sections (not wanting to hurt us while combing. She would wash our hair in braids because she knew washing loose would tangle our hair therefore making it difficult to detangle and hurt us in the process, then she would immediately oil our hair after. I have also been wearing a scarf to bed as long as I can remember and my Mother knew wearing a scarf to bed would keep the style or braids intact longer. I have repeatedly said this has been a family tradition, “a whole lotta Mamas wrappin up some heads”.
My Mother had no clue about natural hair care but was simply doing what works in not hurting us and making it easier on her-self in handling our hair especially since she was a Mother, a Wife, working and attending one of the top universities in the country. These practices really translated in saving time and not wanting to hurt our tendered scalps at that age in the process, which unknowingly was and is the basis in amazing hair care of our texture even if it was unconscious. In return my Mother’s unconscious hair care practices of us constantly wearing box braids and cornrows translated to low manipulation, wearing scarfs every night not only aided in less manipulation by maintaining the style longer but kept and moisture intact as well, and oiling our hair immediately after washing was the unconscious act of sealing. Too bad most of these practices were lost when it came time to do my own hair as I became older.
So the reason I was able to retain that much length when I was little was because of the unconscious proper hair care techniques through my Mother which she had learned from her Mother. So if you have a Mother or family member who had no clue in how to handle natural hair, unfortunately how they handle their own hair is passed on to the child. Therefore many women should not use their childhood in dictating their growth potential
Besides the damage we do to our hair follicles from chemicals and bad hair care practices some may not realize we do not generate new hair follicles anytime during the course of our lives. Which means the density of our hair is reduced as we grow from childhood to adulthood due to the expansion of our scalp. Now my scalp did not expand much since I had an extremely large head as a child, lol (I grew into my head).
The simple fact is the curlier your hair the more fragile and the more fragile the more TLC your strands need. There is no other way around this but fragile does not translate to weak! It would be like Jackie Chan against the Incredible Hulk, physically Jackie Chan is more fragile but in no way does this make him weak! The reason why our hair is fragile is because at curling point along the strand of your hair is a potential point of breakage similar to a perforated line on a tear sheet.
Coarse vs Fine
Course is often confused with the overall look and strength of kinky textured hair. I don’t know how many times I have heard “you have coarse hair, it must be so strong” well this could be nothing further from the truth. As I stated previously coarse is the diameter of your hair strand meaning thick while fine translates to thin. Learning the diameter of your strand can really help you along find a regimen that will work tremendously for your hair as well as dictating how much manipulation your hair can handle.
Porosity, PH Balance & Protein
Knowing the porosity and PH balance of your hair can help tremendously in length retention, especially in helping you find a hair routine that works best for you. Some of us are not aware our hair is acidic or the ph balance which is just the measure of how alkali or acidic a substance is through a scale of 0-14. Which then correlates to the products we use especially since most shampoos and soaps are alkaline and this affects the acidic balance of our hair, causing a shift in the healthy acidic balance of the strands and sebum due to the product stripping away your natural oils. Or what is the proper ph balance for our hair and why it is harder to maintain for kinky curly textures?
Also learning the levels of porosity and knowing that high porosity strands can absorb up to 40-50% its weight and through this accommodation the water causes too much strain on the strand leading to breakage as well as the loss of moisture more frequently and quickly or why do low porosity strands experience more buildup.
These are answers that are important to know and can help you retain length.
To find more on PH balance and Porosity see below:
Before we even decided to collab on this spoof infomercial titled “Patience” I have been preaching patience ever since we launched a year and half ago. Patience is the key element in your entire hair routine to placing products on your strands, detangling, styling simple or intricate hair styles to reaching your hair goals. Patience even far cedes low manipulation. Low manipulation means nothing if you are ripping through your hair during detangling and washing sessions. Patience can also help you understand that low manipulation is what it will take to achieve your length goals and help you keep your hands out of your hair.
Setbacks or Success?
You show me one successful person on the planet that has not had a setback, and I will show you a liar!!! Setbacks are really just our successes in sheep’s clothing, success is waiting but you just don’t see it yet. I would never have retained all this length if I did not have any setbacks!
When it comes to my hair I have been through every trial and tribulation under the sun but each and every one of these setbacks led me towards a path of achieving my hair goals. For instance when I lost have my hair through a fire ( a loss of 10 inches) after being 3 years natural, I realized the reason my hair ignited in the first place is because I was using highly flammable products, this incident caused me to really look at the ingredients in products and become educated on what I was really using which in return caused me to make the switch to extra virgin, all natural oils and essential oils. This change to all natural products led to the elimination of dry scalp, less shedding/strand dryness/split ends and thicker hair in regards of density. Other setbacks included:
- Big chopping three times: From not learning from my mistakes
- Experiencing years when my hair would not retain length: Which I translated as stunted hair growth but the problem really stemmed from the mistreatment in how I handled my fine strands.
- A diet high in sugar & salt: I had no idea then but when I started to change my diet for a healthier lifestyle my hair followed suit through the plethora of benefits that a healthy diet provides.
- Scalp burns: From over processed chemicals
- Loss of hair down to the scalp/Breakage/High Porosity: Unaware of the impact that chemical processes had on my fine strands including coloring, bleaching and too much heat which caused high porosity issues that eventually led to breakage.
- Not being patient: From not appreciating the difference in which my hair needs to be handled
- Consistent Split ends: Too much heat
- Dry scalp & Dandruff issues: Depletion of my natural oils (sebum) through too much heat, and smothering my scalp with unnatural products through the misconception of providing “moisture”
- Accidental dreading: Not properly finger detangling my hair
- Breakage from detangling hair while wet: I learned my strands are just too fine and coupled with the weight of the water and texture does not equate to a successful detangled session for my hair.
- Temporary traction alopecia: From wearing weaves and extensions that were too heavy in bulk and took a toll on my fragile hairline.
- Concerned with derogatory comments due to my texture: I was concerned because I was not confident and I was not confident because there was no love for my natural hair. I have big chopped 3 times but I have always said I truly did not go natural until I fell in love with the texture of my hair.
To be honest the list could go on but you get my point! Setbacks happen and continue to happen you just have to recognize the setback… learn from it, don’t be defeated, for instance a few months ago my ends from the front crowned section of my hair was breaking off. I realized this was the section where I roll my bangs every day, this daily manipulation took a toll on my ends which are the oldest and most fragile part of the hair and I realized if I wanted to wear bangs every day I would need to seal my ends nightly instead of weekly…success! Setbacks led me to become knowledgeable in how to care for my natural hair and in return this knowledge led to success in achieving my hair goals.
Has been my saving grace. Low manipulation works well for me due to my fine strands. So not only am I dealing with 4b/c hair but I am also dealing with fine strands. The actual density of my hair on a whole is extremely thick but the density of the individual strands is very fine.
There are some days when I want to stretch my hair every day especially during the summertime due to the humidity because it shrinks the hell out of my hair, but I don’t because I know what daily manipulation will do to my hair, so I instead I sacrifice volume for length because I know in the long term the more I listen to what works for my hair the more I will be able to retain length and eventually have the volume I want to achieve without stretching.
Loving your Hair Texture
This is a big one! I have been a born again natural three times in my life and each time I was expecting a texture completely different then my own which meant I was expecting coily, uniformed curls and not the kinky texture that sprouted from every big chop. The result…trying to achieve a texture that wasn’t mine through over manipulation, I was stretching my hair through heat as well as “bantu knot outs”, “braidouts”, “twistouts”, and any other “out” or technique I could, to achieve a texture that was different from my own.
I am not in any way trying to insinuate that these methods are bad (except for the use of too much heat) especially if you are using them as an aid for easier manageability or simply prefer a different style, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this but in a world of definition, for me I really had to assess why the second my braidout lost its definition or a bantu knot out became less of a coil why I felt the need to continually over manipulate my strands into submission, of something they did not want to be.
*The simple truth is I did not wake up with long hair, it took me 6 years since my big chop to get to this length and another 9 years of trial and error to figure it out. Another truth is I did not love my hair texture years ago and this over manipulation stunted my retention until I was actually believing my hair could not grow pass a certain point. People always ask me “when did you become natural” and I always say “it was a bit like falling in love, I really can’t recall the exact moment but when it happened it was an indescribable feeling.” For me becoming a natural was more than just the elimination of chemicals, it was falling in love with the texture of my hair sans any altercations and this is when my hair truly begin to flourish.